It’s not exactly a hot tip that buyers are most interested in homes that are clean and attractive. But if your house is not a picture of perfection, what actions should sellers and realtors take before listing it on the market? Is home staging really worth the time and expense 

It turns out a little extra work upfront can boost the odds of the house selling quickly and for an attractive price, according to the 2019 Profile of Home Staging Report from the National Association of Realtors.

Nearly half of sellers’ agents reported that home staging increased the dollar value of a buyer’s offer, compared to similar houses that were not staged. What’s more, one-third of agents reported that home staging decreased a house’s time on the market. 

Even better news: Home staging doesn’t need to cost a lot or take an excessive amount of time. To help prioritize your efforts, here are our top home staging tips for realtors and sellers alike.

7 Home Staging Tips for Sellers and Realtors

1. Set Your Stages

When it comes to staging, not all areas of the home are created equal. According to the aforementioned report, the living room is most important—with 86% of buyers believing that it should be a focus. The master bedroom is also critical: 83% of buyers care if this room is staged. 

The other two rooms that buyers desire to see staged are the dining room and the kitchen. Staging these areas is at least somewhat important to 69 and 62% of buyers, respectively. 

And while the entryway to the house wasn’t explicitly called out as a specific area of focus, this feature also scores high on our list. After all, there’s only one chance to make a first impression, and you don’t want it to be a dirty stoop or garish holiday decorations. A nice outdoor rug couldn’t hurt either.

outdoor rug to frame the door and make a good first impression

2. Make Room

A cluttered house can feel cramped and chaotic, regardless of square footage. So, it’s no wonder that 95% of agents recommend that sellers declutter before listing their homes. 

To make the best impression when selling a home, interiors should be clean and free of unnecessary furniture, decor, and, let’s be honest, junk. 

Sellers, take this opportunity to reassess the value of your knickknack collection, empty spice jars, and “vintage” magazines. If something takes up too much room, but still holds a place in your heart, move it to temporary storage.  

But, if you don’t love it, set it free. While some things will be inevitably dumpster-bound, if it still has some life, donate it so it can have fantastic second—or third life—somewhere else.  

Realtors: Be supportive as your sellers go through this process. You may want to consider providing them a list of companies that provide temporary storage, haul away junk at reasonable rates, or that accept donations.

3. Clean Like Never Before

An entire home cleaning was also high on the list for seller’s agents—recommended by 89%. Carpet cleaning was not far behind at 78%. Whether or not you use outside services, the point is this: homes need to sparkle and shine like never before. 

As a seller, taking on a deep clean yourself can feel overwhelming. However, applying a consistent approach can help the cleaning go faster. It’s recommended to start at the top of each room. In other words, begin by cleaning high shelves, ceiling fixtures, and anything that requires a ladder. Then clean around the room—for example, from right to left—instead of jumping from place to place. 

If your carpet is not in peak condition, do what you can to make it look its best. Take care to remove unsightly stains. You may also want to consider renting a home staging rug to freshen things up. 

Realtors, have the names of home and carpet cleaning companies on file. They may come in handy.

4. Be Prepared to Repair

After removing the excess clutter, the seller and realtor should take a walk through the property, analyzing it from the buyer’s standpoint. Are there any cosmetic issues—worn-out carpeting, peeling paint, damaged tiles, cracked pavement—that could affect someone’s interest? 

No one wants to buy something that’s broken or ugly. While you may have gotten used to the water-stained wallpaper, to a prospective buyer, it’s a signal that the house hasn’t been loved or adequately maintained. So, make sure to address any issues that could slow the sale of the home. 

Realtors, you can help by ensuring that your sellers are focusing their efforts on the right improvements. For example, a total kitchen remodel may not be the most prudent decision. But advocating for a fresh coat of paint or updated light fixtures can add modern, fresh touches.

5. Go Behind the Scenes

When selling a home, it’s crucial to make it the pantheon to possibilities. Buyers don’t want to see evidence of the current residents in their future home. They want to see themselves. So keep personal belongings out of sight—including family photos, that calendar with notations, even pets. 

If the home’s interior design is uniquely distinctive, you’ll want to dial it back. Not everyone loves funky design or eclectic colors. If prospective buyers spend the entire visit staring at the mismatched patchwork pouf chairs, chances are they won’t pay attention to the home’s great selling points. 

Realtors, if your sellers have a blind spot regarding their “distinctive” taste, nudge them in the right direction.

Dial back "distinctive decorating" 

6. Stay Neutral

Adopting a neutral color palette for the decor can help ensure that the home interior is pleasing, or at least inoffensive, to potential buyers. Sellers may even want to consider repainting to remove any stark accent walls or harsh colors. If you decided to pick up a paintbrush, go beige; that’s often the top-recommended color for interior walls. 

Neutralize odors too. Your big clean should get rid of major smells, but don’t forget to take out the garbage before each showing. And for a little something extra, consider adding a simple scent such as citrus, green tea using candles, reed diffusers, or simmer pots. 

Realtors, ensure that the sellers are choosing the optimal color palette and that the house is free of offensive odors prior to showings.

7. Go Natural

But while neutral is good, it can feel sterile and uninviting. Incorporating natural elements brings life to the house without introducing too much personality. At the top of the list are fresh flowers and well-maintained plants. If you’re not naturally a green thumb, fake plants can create the same vibe without the commitment. 

In addition, a natural fiber rug can add subtle color and texture without overpowering the other design elements in your space. Our sustainable area rugs are made from 100% naturally green fibers like sisal, jute, seagrass, so you can rest assured that the rug is environmentally friendly, too. 

Neutral colored area rug can create a beautiful backdrop 

Natural light is another fantastic way to warm up the space. So, before any viewing, open the blinds to let in outside light. If the landscaping isn’t amazing, still keep blinds open but position the slats to minimize the view of visible problem areas.

Realtors do what you can to help your sellers go green. You may want to consider keeping a stock of silk plants and a home staging rugs on hand for clients. Also, make sure that you maximize the power of natural light during showings.

Putting it Together to Stay Show-Ready

With these home staging tips, realtors and sellers can work together to stage a house to sell more quickly and at a higher price. Of course, the real challenge is ensuring that the house is show-ready at a moment’s notice. 

One thing that helps? Faking good habits. Store toiletries under the sink, load the dishwasher after every meal, and clean up clutter before you leave the room. That way, you’ll have less to clean before the inevitable last-minute showings. And, if you’re still short on time, clear the counters, make the floor sparkle, and focus on making the kitchen and bathrooms look their best—those are the areas that attract the most buyer attention. 

Want professional help staging your home? We’ll hook you up with amazing natural fiber area rugs through our home staging services.